A radical plan to restructure the Premier League looks like little more than a “power grab” by English football’s elite clubs, a top government minister has warned.
Manchester United and Liverpool are among the teams to back a Covid-19 rescue package for lower league football that would spark a major shake-up of the game.
The plan would see the Premier League divert a quarter of its revenue to English Football League (EFL) clubs and provide a £250m emergency loan to help with the immediate impact of the pandemic.
The proposals would also see the top league reduced from 20 to 18 clubs, with additional powers for the nine longest-standing teams in the division.
But Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, this morning hit back at the proposals.
Asked by Sky News whether the plan was a good idea or a power grab, he said: “I fear it’s the latter and I’m quite sceptical about this.”
“If we keep having these backroom deals going on, we’ll have to look at the underlying governance of football. We promised in the manifesto a fan-led review, and I must say the events that I’ve seen in the last few weeks have made this seem more urgent again.”
The plans, which have been backed by the EFL, have already sparked a backlash from the Premier League on the grounds that a number of individual proposals could have a damaging impact on the game.
The organisation added that it was “disappointed” that EFL chair Rick Parry had come out in support of the plans, saying it was working in good faith to establish a strategy for Covid-19 emergency funding.
The Football Supporters’ Association, which represents football fans in England and Wales, has also condemned the plot.
Dowden said the row raised “genuine questions about the governance of the sport” and urged the Premier League, EFL and clubs to reach an agreement as a matter of urgency.